The Origins of Football. Football’s Beginnings. The origin of Football can be found in every corner of geography and history. The Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Ancient Greek, Persian, Viking, and many more played a ball game long before our era.
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TheMesoamerican ballgame or Tlatchtli in Náhuatl was a sport with ritual associations played since 1,400 B.C. by the pre-Columbian peoples of Ancient Mexico and Central America. The sport had different versions in different places during the millennia, and a modern version of the game, ulama, is still played in a few places by the local indigenous population.
Football was played in the Public Schools. Each school had their own rules.
This is ‘prince’ Harry playing Eton football.
Football was taken to the masses by ex-public school boys, as they went off to own and manage factories and mines. These ‘gentlemen’ wanted the game kept amateur – but this meant working men could not play as they couldn’t afford to miss work.
The oldest club in the world is Sheffield FC.
This was followed by Notts. County FC.
In 1862 a group of Nottingham business men and cricketers met in the Lion Hotel, Nottingham, to form the Notts. County Football Club.. All the players were amateurs, reasonably well-off, and usually added up to 11 or 12 players with nine forwards and two backs, or behinds. Hacking of shins, tripping and elbowing were allowed and the goalkeeper could be charged out of the way of a shot even if he was nowhere near the ball.
The F.A. was founded to draft a common set of rules for ‘Association Football’ (‘Football’)
Eleven players on each side became football law in 1870 and a year later the F.A. Cup was introduced.
In 1875 crossbars were introduced instead of tape
1878 saw the first floodlit match at Sheffield and a referee's whistle sounded for the first time in a match between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield.
“The attendances at the association games showed that the English working class had at last found a cheap and amusing way of spending a Saturday afternoon” – L.Woodward ‘Age of Reform’
Inter-county and inter-city competitions became popular. The FA Cup was first played for in 1871, and the Football League founded in 1888.
The Original FA Cup.
This was stolen and never found in 1895!
Preston North End
West Bromwich Albion
The original twelve league clubs.
When Blackburn supporters visited London for the FA Cup Final in 1883, the Pall Mall Gazette reported
“a northern horde of uncouth garb and strange oaths – like a tribe of Sudanese Arabs let loose.”
Uncouth – scruffy
Garb - clothes
As acts were passed limiting the length of the working week, the factories and mines shut at mid-day on Saturdays. This allowed workers to go and play, and watch the 3pm matches.
Not for them the luxury of the middle classes to play and watch cricket and golf – which last a lot longer than 90 minutes!
As crowds grew, special stadiums needed to be built. The owners charged admission fees, and tried to attract the best players.
“Broken-time” payments were made to players to compensate their loss of wages. Many ‘gentlemen’ were horrified at this erosion of the ‘amateur spirit’.
One ‘gentlemen’s’ club, The Corinthians completely refused to play for money, refused to play in cup competitions and even refused to take penalty kicks when awarded them – because they didn’t believe that any person would commit a foul!
Football was already mainly a working class sport and payments were common. This prevented the split which divided Rugby Union and League in 1895.
In the 1930s municipal (council) playing fields and parks increased. A new generation of footballers was being given ground to bloom.
The Thirties was the boom decade for sport in England. Crowds of 60,000 were the norm for many clubs. The electric telegraph and radio allowed results to be spread quickly. Sports papers were sold on Saturday evenings with the same day’s results in them.
English sailors took football with them to the ports of Italy, Spain, Brazil and Argentina.
Friendly games with the locals were played, and football fever spread. Juventus, Bologna, Fiorentina and many other clubs were set up by English exiles.
The World Cup was first played in 1930, but it wasn’t until cheap flights that world competitions took off, in the 1950s and 1960s.